Oregon opened the college basketball season with a seemingly tough matchup against Fresno State. This is a season where Oregon is coming in with a lot of hype and a preseason ranking of 15th. So this was a game they should’ve won to tip-off the season. However, Fresno State is a solid basketball program, but Oregon was able to take care of business with a 71-57 win.
Oregon Beats Fresno State
Dana Altman Becomes Winningest Coach in School History
Altman was entering his 10th season as the head coach in Eugene. However, he already has the most wins among all coaches in school history.
This win over Fresno State was his 236th win, allowing him to pass Ernie Kent. However, Kent won 235 games in 13 seasons, and Altman has done it in nine seasons and one game. That speaks to the consistency with which Altman has won since coming to Eugene.
Even more impressive, Altman has done it while having huge roster turnover most seasons.
By the time the Altman Era is over in Eugene, this record is going to be blown out of the water.
Payton Pritchard and Francis Okoro Pick Up Where They Left Off
Payton Pritchard really came into his own as the leader of the program during the run at the end of last season into the Sweet Sixteen. Alongside him, Francis Okoro played a big role, after seeing sporadic playing time for most of last season. However, when Okoro was inserted permanently into the starting lineup, the team defense took off. And the defense was the catalyst for the late-season run.
In this win over Fresno State, both players picked up where they left off.
Pritchard was undoubtedly the Player of the Game. The senior point guard has played a lot of basketball, and he looked like it in this game, putting up 24 points on 8/13 shooting, seven rebounds, and seven assists. To go with those seven assists he had two steals, and he only turned the ball over three times, good for a turnover/assist ratio of better than 2:1.
Okoro was a force in the paint, putting up his first career double-double. It was a minimum of 10 points and 10 rebounds, but it was still a double-double. Perhaps most impressive, was Okoro grabbing six rebounds. On top of that, he played dominant defense in the paint.
If these two are going to play like this as the leaders of this team all season, there are going to be a lot of wins in Eugene.
Chris Duarte is Going to Be a Factor
It’s not hard to see why Chris Duarte was such a highly-coveted junior college player.
He had an impressive Oregon debut with 16 points, seven rebounds, and three steals. However, he was only 6/16 from the field. Despite that, it’s clear that he is going to be a key player on this team and he will have much better shooting nights.
Perhaps the best aspect of Duarte is his size. Pritchard hasn’t had a backcourt mate of this size since Tyler Dorsey left following the 2016-17 season. And even at that, Duarte is bigger.
His size allows him to get into the midrange and shoot over smaller defenders, which is what he showed an ability to do against Fresno State. He also made the only three-point shot the team made in this game, even though he was only 1/6.
Along with the offensive prowess, Duarte finished with the highest defensive rating on the team in this game.
Oregon Beats Fresno State: Overall Thoughts
If everyone stays healthy this is going to be a good season. They showed a lot of potential on the defensive end with size.
The team probably won’t block as many shots as last season because of the departure of Kenny Wooten, but overall this should still be a good defensive team. Plus, Altman always gets his teams to play defense.
On the offensive end, this team looked better than expected in a season-opener. Of course, 1/13 from three is far from ideal. However, the offense looked solid outside of that.
Once the turnovers get dialed in and they start knocking down shots from the outside, Oregon has a chance to put some points up this season, especially with such a seasoned point guard.
Top Photo: Gary Breedlove/247 Sports